Emmanuel Macron and his supporters – including interior minister Gérald Darmanin – have not learnt the lessons from the president's first term and the fact that, twice in a row, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen made it through to the second round of a French presidential election, argues Ellen Salvi in this op-ed article. All the while, she says, the government continues to lower the level of public debate, with the far-right being the main beneficiaries.
President Emmanuel Macron's government is facing a potentially difficult week, haunted by the fear that the ongoing petrol crisis could lead to a wider social crisis. On Sunday the leftwing opposition staged a protest against the cost of living. Then on Tuesday a number of trade unions have called a day of national strikes over pay and the right to take industrial action. Ilyes Ramdani takes the temperature ahead of what could be a tumultuous few days in French politics.
On September 23rd the president's chief of staff was placed under formal investigation for “unlawful conflict of interest” over claims he hid his family ties to the MSC shipping line and intervened in its favour on several occasions while working as a senior civil servant. Alexis Kohler has also been placed under the status of “assisted witness” for “influence peddling” in relation to the same case. As Martine Orange reports, the news comes after the Élysée spent five years trying – in vain - to bury the case.
Le Monde newspaper recently depublished an opinion article about Algeria that had attracted the ire of President Emmanuel Macron. As Mediapart's Joseph Confavreux says in this analysis piece, this was not a one-off example of the Élysée confusing journalism with public relations. As he explains, a number of academics, politicians and journalists are concerned about the way the presidency appears to be systematically equating the two.
The death was announced late on Wednesday December 2nd 2020 of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, aged 94, who was president of France from 1974 to 1981. Here Mediapart's François Bonnet compares Giscard's term of office with the current presidency of Emmanuel Macron. He argues that in a provisional assessment of their achievements the record of the present incumbent of the Élysée does not compare well with his predecessor, especially on social issues. However, there are many similarities between the two men and their presidencies, including the way they came to power and, most ominously, their subsequent slide towards more repressive policies.
The name of senior gendarme officer Lionel Lavergne cropped up during an investigation into a Corsican 'mafia' godfather in 2014, Mediapart has learnt. Yet despite the astonishing contents of phone-taps in the case, that same year the gendarme was appointed number two in charge of protecting the president at the Élysée. When subsequently told by a senior official at the Élysée that he would not get promoted to the top post, Colonel Lavergne retorted: “You don't know who you are dealing with.” He later got the top post, working as head of Élysée security for presidents François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron from 2017 to 2019. Matthieu Suc and Brendan Kemmet report on the results of a Mediapart investigation that goes back five years.
President Emmanuel Macron intervened personally in an investigation into a potential conflict of interest involving his chief of staff, Alexis Kohler, Mediapart can reveal. In the summer of 2019 a statement from the president was sent to France's financial crimes prosecution unit clearing Kohler's name after detectives investigating the case had written a damning report. Following President Macron's intervention, a second police report was written which reached very different conclusions. A month later, the whole case was dropped. Martine Orange investigates a move by the president which appears to breach the doctrine of the separation of powers between the government and the judicial system.
A year and a half after the gun safe owned by Alexandre Benalla went missing, prosecutors in Paris have finally opened a judge-led investigation into the “removal of documents or objects … with the aim of hindering the truth from coming out”. With the support of the investigating judge, the probe could also now look into the disappearance of the contents of a second safe. This was the one that President Emmanuel Macron's former security aide used when he worked at the Élysée, before he was eventually sacked after being caught on video beating up a MayDay protestor in 2018. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report on the latest twist in the Benalla affair.
Concerns have been raised privately within the French justice system about the involvement of the government and in particular the Élysée in picking the successor to Éliane Houlette as head of the country's national financial crimes prosecution unit, the Parquet National Financier (PNF). This is because the PNF is currently handling two investigations which are particularly sensitive for the presidency. One is into the Russian security contracts involving former Élysée security aide Alexandre Benalla. The other probe is into President Emmanuel Macron's chief of staff Alexis Kohler over an alleged conflict of interest. Fabrice Arfi, Michel Deléan and Antton Rouget report.
In the unfolding saga of the Benalla affair, which involves President Emmanuel Macron's sacked security aide Alexandre Benalla, one man played a key role in the shadows. He is French middleman Jean-Louis Haguenauer, the man behind the Russia security contract negotiated by Benalla while the latter was still working as a key aide at the Élysée. Mediapart can reveal how over a period of 30 years Haguenauer cultivated a network of contacts in Russia, including close links with the Russian secret services. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.
An investigation by Mediapart sheds dramatic new light on the affair involving Alexandre Benalla, who was a security aide to President Emmanuel Macron until he was sacked when video footage emerged showing that he had used violence against protestors at a demonstration. In particular recordings of Benalla talking to the former head of security for the ruling LREM party, Vincent Crase, who also lost his job over the scandal, reveal details about a secret meeting that breached a judicial control order, about a security contract with a Russian oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, and Benalla's ongoing communications with President Macron. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget and Marine Turchi report.